Story A Day May: Day Ten

Here’s today’s story, based on a Hansel and Gretel structure. It took me a while to find something I was happy with, plot-wise, but I am rather happy with this (although the story needs a lot of development and further detail — this is a much longer story than it is now).

Funnily enough, I wrote a previous StoryADay story (I would have to look up when, several years ago anyway) based on Hansel and Gretel more directly that was later published (!). It’s called Field Trip and you can find it here.

*****

Julie walked down the street briskly. It had been a long day at work and she could not wait to get home, kick off her shoes, take off her pants, and open a bottle of wine.

She had a history podcast going and she appreciated the distraction. By the time she got home, she would have forgotten the stress of the day — the clients, her boss, the computer that crashed persistently.

Perhaps if she had not had the earbuds in, she would have noticed the man before she did. She doubted, however, that it would have made any difference at all.

He grabbed her arm and she felt something jab into her ribs. Not anything sharp, but something hard and not particularly large.

She turned towards the man, his face was covered and when she looked down, she saw that it was a gun that was pushed against her. She had never seen a gun up close before.

“Come,” he growled and he pulled her along. The other people on the crowded sidewalk melted out of their way.

At the next intersection, the cars were stopped at a red light. The man dragged Julie towards the first car and leaned towards the driver. It was an older man and when the gun was waved at him, he opened the car door. Before she knew what was happening, Julie had been pushed into the passenger’s seat and the man was driving, fast and weaving in and out of the traffic, with one hand while keeping the gun trained on her with the other.
They drove for quite some time and, once they left the downtown core, the man told her briefly to close her eyes, adding a wiggle with the gun that convinced her to do so. They continued on, making many turns, she thought. By the time the car stopped and the man told her to open her eyes, it was dark and there was nothing immediately around them.

“Get out,” he said, only the third thing he had directed at her.

“What?”

“Get out,” he repeated and she did.

As she stood beside the car, he said, “Sit down with your back to the road. Close your eyes and count to one hundred.”

She did as he said, stunned and still in shock.
When she finally took out her phone, she was sadly unsurprised to find that she had no reception.

She wanted to do nothing but cry. How had this happened? Surely people would be looking for her, wouldn’t they?

How would they know where to look?

The road that she was on was narrow and stretched out as far as she could see in either direction. The road appeared to be bordered by farm fields, although it was difficult to tell for sure. It was very dark. She looked up and saw that the sky was cloudy, dark clouds that obstructed the stars.

So she wouldn’t be using them to try to get home.

She looked down the road one way and than the other. She was at a loss as to what to do.

She should start walking, she was sure of that, but which way?

She tried to remember which way the sound of the car had gone when the man had left.

She thought she knew, so she headed off in the opposite direction, but not before she took out her phone and looked at the time. She made a note of it and set off.
Checking her phone periodically for the time, she had walked for half an hour before she saw anything of consequence. It was with quite a lot of relief that the building took shape, although the darkness of the house’s windows did not bode well.

And indeed, despite banging on the door repeatedly and calling out, no one came to the door. There was no car or other vehicle nearby, either.

She walked back to the road, exhausted and turned back to follow the road in the way that she had been heading.
It was not long afterwards that she reached an intersection with a larger road. A road that had streetlights and width.

As with the smaller road, it stretched out in either direction and she sighed. To her right, she thought that she imagined the very faint glow of the city on the horizon and decided that she would go that way.

She trudged along the gravel shoulder, looking back over her shoulder frequently to see if a car was approaching.

After some time (twenty minutes according to her phone, which now had alarmingly little power left), she saw a car approaching and she felt what she could only describe as pure joy. As the car pulled over onto the shoulder ahead of her, she ran to it.

“What you up to?” said the driver. He was a young man, she thought, early twenties most likely. The look he gave her was a leer.

“I’m lost, I’m afraid,” she began. “Is this the way to the city?”

“What? No,” he said, and then, “but I’ll give you a ride to the city, if you’d like.” And he smiled, but it wasn’t a smile that she liked or trusted.

“No, thanks,” she answered. “I’ll try my luck on the other side.”

“Are you sure? Pretty girl like you…”

“No, it’s okay.”

And he murmured something under his breath that might have been slut, revved the engine, and took off.

She crossed the road, feeling broken, and began walking back in the direction that she had come. Tears came unbidden to her eyes and trickled down her cheeks as she went. It was getting colder and she was not dressed for this. Her feet hurt now and when she pulled out her phone, she found that it had turned itself off from lack of power.

The tears came harder. She could not imagine that she was ever going to find her way home.

She passed the road that she had turned off of and continued past it. She wondered what time it was and where she was. When she reached a steep hill, she almost sat down and stopped. It seemed unclimbable in her current condition. She wanted to go to sleep. Surely it was not that cold that it would kill her, was it? She had no idea what that cold would be.

So she walked up the hill, bit by bit. Stopping when she felt like it.

When she reached the top, she was sure she was imagining things. Stretching out below her was the city. She was not sure which part, it was hard to tell from this perspective, but she was home.

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